Tell us a bit about your shop and crew.
So I’m Spence Vader, owner and Tattoo Artist. Dark Side is a 6 wheeled wagon of crazy. Situated in a premises with 3 other businesses, “darling body modifications”, “The Voodoo shop” and “THCA”. My crew consists of Jason Sligting, my manager. He is the metaphorical captain of this wagon and he makes sure everything gets done and gets done right, including his famous dance moves.
Jacques Schoeman is a Senior Artist, who has the ability to tattoo anything, I mean anything, in any style and blow it away. Also, he is the resident nice guy. Angie K is a recently qualified artist but don’t let the years fool you. This lady has such a light hand and super fine eye for detail, making her realism incredible. Siobhan Freemantle and Mornay du Plessis are the current apprentices both with amazing talents in the arts. Siobhan should be finished with her apprenticeship in a year or 2 but her illustrative style is mind-blowing. Mornay has just started and has quickly learnt it isn’t easy but its totally worth it.
How did you get interested in tattoos and tattooing?
Growing up in a super big religious family, rebelling had to be done by someone, I thought why not me. My parents had no hope, 7-year-old me wanted tattoos and piercings so it was just a matter of time. My dad influenced my brother and I into drawing. I hung out with older alternative kids when I was in high school and a lot of them had ink already and knew places. I found an apprenticeship and the journey began.
How long Have you guys been open?
Dark Side Tattoo Collective has been open for 3 years but was built on top of a pre-existing Tattoo studio.
You used to be called Ink’d Cherry. What caused the name change?
The original owner Kitty Andrews who gifted me with a place to tattoo and call home, left the industry and immigrated a few years back and left me with a whole lot of responsibilities. Inked Cherry will always have a special place in my heart. Its where I learnt who I am in this lifestyle.
What obstacles have you guys faced and how did you overcome them?
We recently moved because the last studio was getting small and the team needed more space to work and be comfortable. We also teamed up with a few other businesses and needed a space that could accommodate us all, so we found a house. Timing wasn’t on our side and we had just 2 days to move into a space we had only seen once. We moved Monday, painted and decorated on Tuesday because Wednesday was work again and we needed to tattoo in a clean sterile place but we did it. Long hours and pushing through. I think we were powered by the excitement of the new spot.
What drew everyone to the tattoo world?
We all have different walks in life but if the goal is the same we often cross people with similar outlooks of life. I think our end goal that unites everyone in the tattoo world is, freedom, freedom to be who we really are with no judgement.
Can you tell us more about the tattoo scene in South Africa?
As far as the world goes I think its still pretty small and old school. Although it’s growing at mega rate and some amazing artists are on the rise. There is a big chunk of us moving the industry forward but nothing worth it is ever easy.
What local bands do you guys work with?
We love to work with the local music industry and often try to help out a starting band that has potential. We currently sponsor electro driven rock band “Shut Up! Its Sunday “, progressive melodic metal giants “HIRAETH” and an indie rock band called “Kidnapped by Gypsies”.
What are the most popular tattoo styles that you guys do in SA?
I think its generally wide-spread. But neo-traditional and black and grey realism are often favourited.
What inspires you guys?
Music is definitely number one and the speaker is almost always blaring in the studio. We take turns so a variety is available because everyone listens to so many different things. Number 2 would be clients who don’t just support a studio but an artist. Those relationships are few and far between.
If you could tattoo anyone in the world who would It be and why?
Ozzy Osbourne , because not only would it be one entertaining session filled with debauchery and humour but because I love him as an artist and I love Black Sabbath. So a Black Sabbath tattoo on Ozzy would be magical.
Can you tell us about your own favourite tattoo and the stories behind them?
I got to tattoo Matt Parkitny from Australian band “Hands like Houses” I tattooed a lion and mandalas in the African continent on his thigh. What a great guy and so much love for wildlife,music and gaming. Joel Tyrrell, bassist of the same band tattooed the words “MAD” on my ankle. He had never tattooed before. It still looks rad!
What is your favourite tattoo style that you like to perform?
Neo-traditional is always a big one for me. Combining new techniques but remembering the classic styles that birthed this industry.
What is your go-to aftercare routine?
We use “African Voodoo” hand made by our resident business “The Voodoo Shop” which specialise in the cannabis health and lifestyle.
How has the industry changed since you guys got started?
It’s definitely grown a whole lot. Studios are popping up everywhere. I like to think we are a little more progressive in the way we work. Hygiene and aftercare are more important than ever before.